While the topic of color management or
color science is a complex one, I will touch briefly on the theory, and
the importance in color reproduction.
Colors in the computer are made up
from the combination of red green and blue colors. There are 256 possible
variations for (density or value) i.e. lightness and darkness, there are
256 possible variations for color hue, and there are 256 possibilities for intensity or color saturation. When you
combine 256x256x256 you end up with a possible combination of 16.7 million color combinations.
In short, color management is an
attempt to control the variations of these color combinations precisely. A color management system (in
theory) will take a look at a large selection of colors, such as seen in the photograph
above. Using highly sensitive
spectrophotometers, input and output color can be precisely measured. The software will then compare the
output colors to what was actually captured by the
camera. Through a series of computer algorithms, it will then attempt to control the output to match the
This is a very simplified explanation to a very complex task. There are many
variables involved, such as the actual light source color
temperature, as well as intensity of the light falling on the artwork.
This is just one such variable that can change when the light is turned on and off. Other things such as transmission of color by particular lenses, surrounding wall colors, and
then how the colors themselves behave under a particular light source. We are all probably familiar with
florescent colors and black lights to cite a more extreme example of how colors can behave under different light
Color management is not only a function of image capture, but is used
for display monitors and for printer output. All such devices in a system
must be calibrated, and this "closed loop" system is key in color accuracy. This is also one of the reasons I tend
to not accept digital files from outside sources. The more precisely the environment and variables can be
controlled, the more accurate the final output.
While color management plays a key role in color accuracy, the ability of the
photographer to be able to identify color shifts, and subtle variations is part of the art of fine art
reproduction. It's difficult to correct poor color if you cannot identify
the problem. Not enough blue in a red, too much yellow
in a green, blacks that are too intense, to name just a few. Fine art reproduction is not just a science, but
very much an art.
Finally, there is accurate color and then there is subjective color. By working
closely with the artist, it is possible to make subtle "tweaks" to the
captured image. Sometimes a departure from the original can actually enhance
the reproduction. A good example of this would be some extra contrast, or perhaps removing an unwanted color
cast that was not originally apparent.
Many such refinements are possible, and I am happy to work with any artist to
refine their art until it is "perfect" to their own unique vision.
(see the terms and conditons page for limits)
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